The plot is pretty clever, and moves at a good pace. The main action in the book takes place over the span a two or three days, and there’s never a dull moment. The story moves from one plot point to the next smoothly, and it definitely kept me interested.
Also, the focus of the plot is really on the theft and figuring out the mystery behind the disappearance of one of the most famous diamonds in the world. It’s really nice to read a YA book that’s about what it says it’s about, and not just another love story with some other stuff shoved in. The thieving is actually pretty clever, and even though it was pretty easy to figure out who was behind all the badness going down in the book, it wasn’t immediately clear how or why this person was doing things, so it was a pretty compelling mystery.
The characters were also a nice change in most YA books I’ve read. Remy is the female heroine, and she’s definitely got her own agenda. She’s billed as the best gem thief in the world, and at first I was worried I had a Mary Sue on my hands. But the other characters don’t heap praise on her and everything doesn’t just magically work out for her, so she’s actually fun to read. And, even better, she does stuff to advance the plot, and she does it independent of her love interest. However, for all that, I don’t totally feel like I knew who she was, or where her feelings were coming from. I liked her personality, I just wish I felt a bigger connection to her.
Then there’s Thaddeus. He’s a nice guy, but not a pushover. His moral outlook is polar opposite to Remy’s. He’s a policeman, she’s a thief! Oh no! And…it’s pretty cute. The first time the book introduces him, it gives a good outlook of his moral code, who he is as a person, and the book shows it to us, it doesn’t just tell us, so it gives you a really good understanding of his character.
As much as I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t perfect. While I liked both Remy and Thaddeus as characters, they do have an instalove thing going on. I don’t know…at this point, it happens so much in YA novels, maybe I should just accept it. But I did cringe when the characters inevitably declared their love for each other. The thing is, I really liked that the story focused on the mystery and the action over the love story. But then, when the two characters start falling for each other, we’ve spent so little time developing their relationship, it feels very, very rushed. Also, the ages of the characters seemed strange. Remy is pretty young, 16, and Thaddeus is (I think) 18? Both of them seem too young to be where they are in their careers (world’s best jewel thief and policemen at Scotland Yard) But maybe that’s just a modern mind set?
But just when I thought the love story was going to get too cheesy to stomach there is a twist that kind of saved it for me. So in the end, I’m torn about the romance. In general, I like reading romances and I usually end up rooting for the two people to get together. The same thing happened here, I wanted Remy and Thaddeus to get together. It’s just the way it develops that annoys me.
I liked the setting and the elements of steampunk, but they didn’t totally shine for me the way they do in, say, Etiquette and Espionage. It didn’t seem like the author totally had a handle on those parts of the story. Also, magic gets thrown into the book very suddenly. I think mixing magic and steampunk would be really cool, but there’s no warning and then BAM! There’s mention of a curse? And later a character actually does magic? I think? How magic works in this world never totally gets explained, so every time it comes up it feels jarring.
There are some things that struck me as cliché, mainly the accents on Remy and J. They may be totally historically accurate, but they felt over the top to me. J especially seemed like everyone’s bad imitation of a cockney accent.
The villain in this book is pretty one dimensional, and I wouldn’t say the resolution with this story line was totally satisfying.
But for all its faults, I still really enjoyed reading this book. There were definitely moments when I couldn’t put it down, and if this is the first in a series I’d read the second one. Overall, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.